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today on k pr percent walter cronkite and dan rather interesting cooper and lester holt that evolution of television news i'm kate mcintyre i think at our listener you probably get a lot of urine is from npr that for much of the past fifty years the big television that works for the main source of news coverage for many americans how has that changed and what difference does that make that was the focus of the annual journalism and politics lecturer at the dole institute of politics held november thirteenth two thousand eighteen this event featured media executive and strategist ed hearst an emmy award winning producer michael casio and was moderated by dole institute director bill lacy let's go back to the sixties and seventies and i like both of you to comment about what the news is like back then when there were three networks and pbs and me it's hard to imagine if you're under forty you know that if you think of it
now and abc cbs and nbc station there's new news will likely live birds and there is local is and i work at hand i am for america that was it that's it there was three that that's all you get a choice and um you know i think you are either a member at the time either an nbc family or cbs family were later abc came along and that's that was it for tv news to you it's hard to imagine being in their choices at all go into that in a minute and but the interesting thing is you also probably had two newspapers coming into the house so you have the morning paper in the evening paper or maybe just one but but it was also part of the part of the ritual and i bring that up because i think when we get into it they think the demise of newspapers is and his music is it is
a shame a robot basically in terms of journalism i'm just curious who do hear still gets a newspaper daily newspaper on on like an actual physical newspapers really good view among adjunct graduate faculty at the new high school and an as is bill says try to explain this not because the border the agent for your thirty don't don't don't wanna know but the context is really difficult right so here's the deal and that he lived in a town ok that only had three restaurants ok and the only serve food between five apr right you only you would get used to the right this one has jenny is with this one is that with his role as comfort food you know a day like what's good you know it's bad and that your joints so you if you want to go out to dinner you go there or you drive to another town me now imagine the wood bats the world we lived in that the world we live in
now is a twenty four seven food court that serves every type of food to every case all the time and so think about what that means that means that the pie is divided up little crack is literally divided up in the tiniest slice right has had a somebody serving southern high food make money you know make money at bad food restaurants they open twenty four seven so the world we live in a news like endless sources endless knot nights watching the sources and those platforms analysts uneasy it's right if you get any you know if you get if you or let the center there's a their resilience or so youre right of center there are zillion other sources i n and it's become so personalized unleashed out right how do those make money and that's what the challenge is not challenges
that people are interested in news how do you create a business model where people are over people where enough people our age did become a muse use or so that's why you've seen so many as see so much of this this news she obviously others to distance in the back also how many of you know students on tv and then a couple of subscribe to cable zero ok how many of you watch netflix get most your content an area that they know how many of you are playing for netflix or using your parents or roommates will be but they are not so so much of this is a stanza of the so much of this is a weird then i usually have like a powerpoint he thing that i sell but there it is a weird amalgam i love the combination i've been in constant orbit like three dimensional chess of the changing audience the changing technology and the changing
business model cause think about how those all spin around each other the audience that new technology comes out that i can watch it is on my phone the audience expects it you know expect to watch whatever you want whenever you want it and then how do you make money at it so he could do it more so that's a good that is really what is in concentration an unprecedented way i think that the system is was created almost as an accident of technology producer michael cashing out that there was limited bandwidth for your television right there was thirteen or twelve twelve counts two through thirty you a caf really haven't really come of the vhs spectrum and so and because of overlapping signals you could only have three or four or maybe five stations and a mina market but really was to a three four from say like nineteen forty five or forty six through the seventies into the eighties that was the system and that's that's the
scarce that that's a thing where everybody sat down to one newscast because that's really as you say those were all the choices but was almost an accident of technology that that enable that plus there was rules that they were rules that other stations had to serve the public interests in the public necessity so they created news departments and they did interviews and stuff and that was just as intended to make money right well they have a they were making money hand over fist but they also want to keep their license so they would do these programs and then after a while he made money and and they said anyway we can do we can make money but it was it was interesting because it's an accident of technology much like the system today that we have which is all over the place is it is it not an accident is a product of all of that the technology that enables this massive choice is just overwhelming choices every year we tried to go to netflix and you're like aipac it's panorama looking for something to do with the fight legit a long one point and you talk about the yom
the impact of those three of those of having those three network tv executive and strategist and her story that was because that's what was their rankings and now we live in this incredible age of personalization wages you have a spot of five playlists you have your twitter feed that has our facebook feed their song pre selected but places you're going to get your news the idea of a man's appeal of a mass appeal thing it's like it's a kid's kids almost in and it today it feels almost anachronistic and that city is so so part of it is that is that the technology part of it is is the ability to get all this and part of that is there were in this age of personalization where you know i watch somebody else as news is one watch your names and bass like a gentleman's speak to the influence that anchors yeah in the sixties and seventies compared to the influence that they have now and specifically much all star
review but specifically address the episode of walter cronkite the tet offensive in vietnam than any other examples of lonely at all over the walter cronkite was the anchor of cbs and it was thought to be the dean of anchors and if i am walters crockett said something you know than it was that banana must be news and he was the most trusted man in america now i'm going to tell one story of a killer one is relevant to today because they believe he's been hearing started today and people think are you know would the idea what side you're on you know this is not a big story this is the story this is about practices that you know were you know depending on how you look at it while back when watergate happened there was a wire you know the watergate burglary and it was a big story with in washington i was a student and but outside of washington it really wasn't resonating it
was like you know they do the services like now you know i don't know that you know the average person in kansas really cares a much about ukraine maybe they do maybe they don't but it's not what a top of mind and watergate was not top of mind either are and then one night in late october of lighting whatever was seventy two seventy three walter cronkite decided to devote fifteen minutes of his newscast of the newscasters thirty minutes but it's really only like twenty two or twenty three minutes so there's the fifteen minutes of twenty two minutes was devoted to explaining what all is watergate fuss was about an hour now we have three networks as one network that's devoting most of its newscast with walter cronkite who was sort of like got on mount olympus telling you that this is important and until that time that the rest of america really hadn't i mean it was out there but it really really and focused on it and it is credited to this date and what about you know egg to two making the public aware aware
of something that they hadn't been aware of before maybe for good reason maybe it had developed and then later after that it it took on more importance after nixon won the election an end and i'd i bring that up because today you know the impeachment hearings that i don't there's no state is no walter cronkite is no nobody that's going to say this is important this is important that you may get all different side say you know there's not going to be one source that that determines that and it was so different back then and that when that happened i was actually in new york at the time our graduate class had was going to different networks and i was at the cbs rival which was nbc and john chancellor and david brinkley or somebody and tom we were watching the competitive newsweek we spent the day with the news and then nbc they didn't do that story that watergate was not the big star and they go to cvs and we watched the cbs news there rival and that with their words like
why was a compact spending fifteen minutes doing what do with what and i asked a guy that they had like your members may now head of nbc news is that what you know how you feel about this he's doing this big thing in you know as they're doing about this and and he said well says i can hear the dials of america turning off that they're bored by this watergate stuff them in a really you know they're really where i could just i just know the rest of the country doesn't really care and he was wrong we mentioned woodward we were talking that the global voices that there's another incident in that it gives when you're thinking about about in vietnam during the vietnam war right that there was yasser growing sentiment in the late sixties that that this was not going to be winnable and that things were going wrong why and again i'm
usually walter cronkite you know and the sort of that the keeper of you know bits of middle america went to gm and to report during the tet offensive and he concluded that literally that there's no way you know based on this reporter and he never gave a pig that was that and he actually said based on this reporter's i can say that this reporter's point of you know of his reporters' work on that i it that that there is not seem to be a path to victory and john barr president johnson was later disease it was we're going to say to his staff well if we lost cronkite we lost the country now you know to your point i wanted so you point i'm not sure there's another cronkite but you actually have heard in the white house if i was sean hannity i've lost my days and if i've lost rachel matter now we've lost so those people exist but in this polarized world they in this
actual eyes and fracture was world there are still those iconic some of those iconic they don't wield the mainstream power just like there's no one ed sullivan show for those viewers are engaging our lives are dominated series or one johnny carson that dominates the late night but there are still people laugh you guys in the backwoods think of them as influencers write an end and they are and they were the influencers with a huge mass audience ok now how was network news a different back then was it is it fair to say that it was more they were more an arbiter of thaksin and more interested in issues or is that not fair to say here's again i don't mean to be the lead well just put your palm guy but think about again how this ecosystem has changed again but hearst's write you looked at that you got the morning paper and then the next time as you know what was the misery or something like that the
next time you got the news was at six thirds of their job was to try to tell you everything that happened in some certain order of importance every day and that was the challenge and when i worked on the evening news we took seriously in the local news that they took serious well think about it now you know your phone or your desktop computer right by the time you get to six thirty you know a lot of what you think happened so the job if you watch evening news now which is it doesn't have the importance of ratings although it still has twenty or thirty million people watching every night so let's not have you know a funeral procession yesterday evening owners but even as at it it still has a larger audience but it has a different job because when you get tweets on bail on your car bomb in afghanistan school shooting inception such place you know now that that happened almost immediately what you don't know is why it
happened and what it means so if you watch the evening the first fifteen twenty minutes evening newscast is still pretty hard news and they're still trying to tell you a little bit more about what's most important one to me now what they also do is a local isn't it in an evening news spend a fair amount of time show you the viral video you know car chases and now i don't for a duopoly weapon that's what was ever thus oh you know under the water skiing dog you know is that what the un the interesting thing is that news has become because of that the news has become more opinion it's like certain such and such happened when to turn to my channel and a microwave where mattel i wanna know what actually iowa more fat than does that all about mikey yeah i could live at upright to wait till tomorrow and read it but they immediately going to analysis or you know the water skiing dog or i'm like you know the daily update us when it does evening news programs are still serve a function for me and
about you but they think they are based on fact and i find that the news networks it's just because it's cheaper there's a secret it's a lot cheaper to have a bunch of people sitting around talking about them is that it is to actually go out and report that is and frankly it's a lot easier that because you know they say ok in our citizen seven let's talk about it and i'm like the one i tell me more about what happened you know in the end that's my beef with it and probably speaks to your question which is i think that somewhere along the line facts became a commodity instead of something precious and facts you know they matter of course the matter but there's no central location it's just it's it's just an interesting kind of my usual something and really important i think that the term news just like the term reality show ray reality show know you under the kerry is everything from you know cops which is a lot of documentary to america dancing with the stars right so it's also
a charity that i live in potomac maryland and there's a tv show on bravo the real housewives of potomac ok and i was the lessons are not real housewives and they're not there but i gather there is so so much a sailor what cable news figured out you think about this the next time you watch and they really was a few years ago they figured out that they could report on the news on and yes they love stories where they can speculate there's a hostage taking they got no pictures visitors to set their own what happened so they bring onions and a whole cottage industry of former fbi agents hostage negotiators to talk about what they love and an end then it's been reported on you want the cnn and the others the air they had an aha moments rather tragic when that a malaysian airliner disappear they realize the ratings or job
they would do nothing but talk about their sausage is going on they focused on what cable news news ok and i mean and i think we should be called primetime cable news which are these long awaited talk shows they love unsolved mysteries war a long running soap operas and that's really what they are right that was it was it is over that that that malaysian airline what happened to bring people on that there's somebody found a scrap of paper the ocean that have been in our talk about what that could mean with experts and that's because of frankly ratings right because what cnn discovered when there isn't breaking news right you don't deal and one cnn the oil a generous nbc when there is a breaking news so much as to do know is this a gray they did tell me i know work the local tv and cable and then i also briefly worked at nbc is and damn it does not tell you tell us goal but the ratings were in the bumper was msnbc before this current incarnation and dumb i
don't take this the wrong way but a plane went down and cheer what happened the newsroom because they knew and had saved syringes or a mordant newsroom humor samuel l session on as a different vibe out with local tv is generally thriving and doing well whether you like it or not whether it's doing a good job is a different issue but but in terms of the business of local tv and they seem to be doing well there are when viewers tune into television news these days or they looking to find out the facts and what's going on or they were more looking for a cheerleader for their point of view and i think that they i think that there are it depends what show and it depends on the viewer would show what platform if you look if you watched the pbs newshour or front line you're not looking for a cheerleader if you're watching the evening
news are probably not watching a cheerleader if you're watching sean hannity or rachel you are looking for a cheerleader and in two thousand a guy with a very interesting was in the beginning of this kind of new age of very interesting panel opposed to him and it was up the new yorker writer ken auletta i was a very good media writer and resilient bob kerrey what would become president the new school was euphoric center president that again and he said something that is still resonates with me and he says in this piece that we ask a similar question what's different about this election cycle and he said for the first time was two thousand eight he said you can wake up in the morning and if you're left of center you can go to the huffington post and then watch msnbc at night and if you're right of center you can read the drudge report or breitbarth an app and watch an and watch fox news and never run into an idea you disagree with
that and he said and that any set and so news has gone from here's what we all need to now and she has an interesting article about it or image that point of view that i have and for plot out to a series of affinity groups and i think it's part of this tribalism that we'll talk about annuities etc other people say news is that the way the news is set up if the cause of that and there are people's a woman loses the result of that and i get we dont live we can probably argue that tonight but it's probably a variety of factors but i don't know if some of the professors are sitting with our art historians in their field but wasn't this the case around the turn of the twentieth century read eighteen hundreds into their early nineteen hundreds when there were multiple newspapers were multiple broad sheets whatever and they have multiple points of view so that you had your journal america a liberal won a nine member that read the history lesson posen nagin seventies they don't
like rather for b hayes and so they never mentioned his name you know of eighteen and i might identify them you know and we survived that i you know this this is different in some ways because of the immediacy and whatnot but i i think we're just lucky that we lived through a time when there was an agreement that this walter cronkite or this was factual we generally agreed on but i will tell you in the eighties and nineties one and i as we did surveys that wasn't any network which was different than it was so like tv's ish and we did these surveys and find out what people wanted longer for news and so we hired a guy named bill curtis is a busy vs at cbs anchor and i needed long form and we did these focus groups and surveys and people said are you know even then they were like really like the news anymore right but i like bill
kurtis because the zombies given to straight and um you know he is he's given detail in and week we trust him more for some reason more than we trust them is i think maybe there's just been this under par for a while and then but the networks now fox msnbc cnn are now out of exploiting that end and then realizing they can make a lot of money off that and then they said yes perfectly one of the challenges the major challenges that television these faces today that the challenge is the tyranny of ratings that there are times when the ratings are any kind of conflict with what is the best in public the public interest that you know nine eleven being the biggest example like no he's going to say don't cover you don't know it was you know seminal event of our time and and and i think the news division's rose to get rose to the occasion you know that in that arm
but you know can we say for sure that we're not you know that they're that we're then they're feeding us what we want and not what we need and i'm not trying to say we need to be elitist about it was i believe in the ratings and i believe in that but but is it your job to make things it injured as interesting as possible and so that is my existential fear that word we're not going to get into what the journalism department worked so hard with their students to do to get them to really appreciate truth and facts and and and and do that and so i i worry about that my worry is slightly different is that arm is that the people saying i'm just cohn rough demographics here at the people say in the first four five six rows here ok they're not people are worried about ok i'm worried about the people sitting in the back of the room who do not have a history of
seeking out fact based journalist they expect in a new guise of them nothing like scalded you but you are but but you you're on twitter and you pick your news sources to come to you on twitter you expect netflix to tell you and be you've come to expect that flexibility demand if it to tell you recommended for me okay what's the next show up that were under watch ok there's no electronic program guide anymore like we have cable ratings here's what's coming up next you watch it ok here's the years about what my instagram influencers tell me is the hottest fashion and so there's a lack of going out and seeking stuff now if you there's a lack of going and seeking stop what does that create the appetite for a fact based journalist the g this thing happened how do i go find alan and you do more of it and set your mind to those duck tales to mike's point about newspapers you realize that the way you write you for being called as collette
well you gotta let and what is usually comes up report from a decent newspaper right and now the only people seem to be able to make money or have robust newspapers are rich people write these us and the salzburg earth family end and nonprofits newspapers are becoming nonprofit so the offer of a source of journalism and you might have that would like a book hooked on local mayors right first thing we didn't want a eulogy than philadelphia inquirer it's even as i do now until of the inquirer the philadelphia daily news any of the boatman say ok well let's follow up on that story at networks city are times the wall street journal so i'm concerned that there isn't going that that somehow the the appetite for news is among the next generation long millennials and gen zinni is dropping off and that's my concern that they are not creating the demand for a fact that states which would create an advertising base they actually do it with us the decision that's emmy award winning producer michael
casio and media executive and strategist ed hearst they spoke of the dole institute of politics at the university of kansas and that it looked old journalism and politics fletcher held november thirteenth two thousand nineteen this event was moderated by dole institute director bill lacy i'm kay mcintyre we'll have more of their conversation on the evolution of tv news as kbr present continues right after this
The Evolution of TV News, Part 1
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KPR Presents, the 2019 Journalism and Politics Lecture from KU's Dole Institute of Politics featuring Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Anderson Cooper, Lester Holt, Ed Hersh, Michael Cascio, and moderated by Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy.
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